- Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.
Drugs. Cutting. Pedophilia. Prostitution. HIV/AIDS. Alcohol. Cunt. Fuck. Twat. Mental abuse. Death. Paranoia. Fights. Rape. Molestation. Zoophilia. Love. Human kindness. Hope. Survival.
15 year old Anais, 50 foster homes, three name changes, and a rap sheet taller than herself is here to give you a tour. A tour of the realities of the foster care system, of treatment against the mentally ill, of how once you’re locked into a system that is designed to spit you out and eat you alive, there is a shred of hope still alive for change. A world that while it may take place in Scotland, is not out of the ordinary here in the States. A reality in which only the strongest will survive, even if it means you have to become feral to do so.
Anais’ story is not pretty, it’s not easy to read, and is not for the weak stomached. But you will fall in with love her, even as she sniffs, sucks, snorts, and fights her way around her world. Anais is the mirror being held up to our world and while we may not be 15, we may not have a penchant for Dior lipsticks and pillbox hats, there are secrets within ourselves that help us cope with our day to day lives.
Think Charles Bukowski with a dash of Hunter S. Thompson with bits of Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series mixed with Irvine Walsh, and you have The Panopticon.
This is a beautifully written and actualized story that while may be hard to swallow, needs to be said. Needs to be told. Needs to be read. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a very long time.
I was introduced to Babitz recently via a recent article about her in Vanity Fair. The idea of an intellectual good-time girl intrigued me as it should, and I was dismayed to find that her work is not only largely unknown but also out of print. I was able to get a first edition copy of Sex and Rage via interlibrary loan to read and boy, am I ever glad I did. Babitz is glorious as a writer, the work hums with the fastness of the era, of the good time unapologetic choices that Jacaranda makes, doing so with such easy going nature you are desperate for the drugs she’s on.
One sentence review: Twee as fuck.
We meet precocious Mary Russell, who has a fairy tale background replete with wicked aunt, who happens one fine day in 1915 to stumble upon the now retired Sherlock Holmes in a random field near her home and bedazzles him with her skill of deduction. Much of the book is twinged with a bit of Mary Sue-isms (Mary goes on to Oxford to read theology, a nod to the author, but there was not one iota of set-up prior to this declaration of WHY she was studying theology, which makes the declaration much more Mary Sue). We meet the venerable Mrs. Hudson, Doctor Watson (Uncle John, natch), and so forth. We see Mary work with Sherlock on solving cases chapter by chapter that read like a crime report rather than a true whodunit.
While the series is turning 20 this year (and the earlier titles are being repubbed for the celebration), I can’t help but get the sense the Flavia de Luce series (which I adore) is much better handling the twee elements the Mary Russell series tries to emulate without being so sickeningly sweet. I have issues with tortured heroines who are completely unawares of their own folly and Russell is in that camp. Laurie R. King is a skilled and technically competent writer, but her characters development and building interest in wanting to like these worlds amateurish. Once I finish book 1, I may go on to book 2 to see if there is improvement but I don’t see myself making a huge investment in this series.
- University Challenge
Another season is over and Jeremy Paxman has sold us with his glamour shots portrait that thumbnails the show and his snide commentary when contestants get it wrong. Trinity College, Cambridge has won — surprise!
- Under the Gunn
Project Runway re-dux, but, with less tension and more drama. Nice filler, not too much of the stretch of the imagination to watch, and could be at times entertaining.
- Nurse Jackie
Beginning of the sixth season and Jackie’s tricks haven’t changed, only the players in her game. Even with an almost new cast injection that has been happening for the last few years, the show is a one trick pony. SOmething has to change, Jackie has to change, if the show wants to continue but it’s pretty clear they are milking the storylines for all the same bag of tricks to keep the series going. The show is not moving enough forward to really warrant a seventh season, but yet Showtime went ahead and ordered one anyway. Will I stick with season 6? Stay tuned and find out.
- Mad Men
My reactions via Twitter on the season opener: Mad Men is existential white people dude bro bullshit. It’s so tired, I can’t even summon up the anger for it anymore. And also, Don Draper’s “I have to go to work” is the Mad Men version of Patrick Bateman’s, “I have to return some video tapes.” Thank fuck this is the last fucking season. It’s pretty clear Don can’t handle the duopoly of his life and he is so worn down by the lying, scheming, and switching between selves, the ONLY redemption he will have is death by his own hand.
What have you read/watched/listened to this week?